Summer move preview: May 2012

It’s here! It’s here! Summer movie season is here at last! And 2012 is shaping up to be a killer summer at the movies. We’ve got two potential billion-dollar superheroes, a handful of promising comedies, princesses on the warpath and cartoons about dead people. It’s gonna be a good summer.

May 4

A Little Bit of Heaven

Kate Hudson stars in this romantic comedy about a woman with terminal cancer.

Yes, really.

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The Avengers

Joss Whedon manages the egos and interests of six superheroes and a supervillain to awesome, face-rocking results. Full review here.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Or, old British people fall in love in India.

No seriously, this has been earning decent reviews all year and stars a hit parade of formidable British talents such as Bill Nighy, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Tom Wilkinson. It’s about a group of retirees who decide to head to cheaper India to while out their retirement at the newly-restored Marigold Hotel. Except the place isn’t quite as advertised, and as they deal with less than romantic reality of living in India, they discover new things about themselves and each other.

I’m trying really hard not to sound sarcastic about this cutesy plot and it’s not working, is it?

LOL

Miley Cyrus’s ill-fated “comedy” was destined for the straight-to-DVD bargain bin except that foreign sales were predicated on a US release, so Lionsgate is giving LOL a very basic, extremely limited theatrical run with no press to meet that requirement. Which means the movie blows chunks.

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May 11

Dark Shadows

Seems like most people are well and truly over Johnny Depp and his eccentric roles, but Depp apparently isn’t. He reteams with Tim Burton to bring a campy nighttime soap opera about a vampire, his lost love, and the jealous witch that cursed him to the big screen. And while everyone also seems done with Burton/Depp and their fruity movies, the trailer looks like a throwback to Beetlejuice and I’m kind of digging it. It’ll be interesting to see how audiences respond to this, if the masses really are burned out on Burton/Depp or if that’s just internet complaining.

Girl in Progress

Just in time for Mother’s Day, Eva Mendes stars as a self-absorbed single mom who neglects her kid in favor of having an affair. The kid then embarks on some hare-brained scheme. Chaos ensues, lessons are learned, and everyone hugs.

Goddamn it, I wasn’t going for sarcasm there either. It’s just that all these movies sound so bad.

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Hick

Blake Lively and Chloe Grace Moretz (Hugo, Kick-Ass) star in this adaptation of Andrea Portes’ critical darling of novel. The story follows runaway Luli (Moretz) as she hitchhikes across the country and encounters seedy characters like Eddie (Eddie Redmayne, My Week with Marilyn) and coke-addled Glenda (Lively). I heard okay things about this after TIFF last fall, but there is some godawfully stupid dialogue in the trailer, so I’m not sure I trust the people telling me no really, it’s actually good.

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May 16

The Dictator

I’m a big fan of Sacha Baron Cohen and his immersion-style comedy, but his movies have been a mixed bag so far. I adored Borat but Bruno only worked in bits and pieces. The Dictator is not as free-form as Borat and Bruno, and while I think the trailer looks funny, I wonder if the overall conceit—Middle Eastern dictator gets “lost in New York” while on a trip to the UN—isn’t too much like Borat. Some footage screened at Cinemacon last month, though, and was well received. I feel like there will be no middle ground with this one—it will either be really funny or completely fall flat.

May 18

Battleship

By the time Battleship opens stateside, it will have already earned around two hundred million dollars. It’s big and dumb and loud, but the SFX are pretty stunning and the action, once it gets going, never really stops. This is Universal trying to horn in on the box office bonanza Paramount has been enjoying over the last five years with Hasbro and Transformers, and Battleship does indeed have a lot in common with the other franchise (see also: big, dumb, loud). Peter Berg recycles several members of his beloved Friday Night Lights, including star Taylor Kitsch, but for some reason foists both non-actresses Rihanna AND Brooklyn Decker on us. This is a stupid movie—it’s based on a board game, after all—but it’ll make a bunch of money anyway. Although I’m not sure it will be able to top The Avengers, which could very well have a three-week stranglehold on the box office by this point.

Hysteria

Hysteria is based on the true story of how vibrators were invented to spare doctors from painful hand cramping because back in the Victorian era, “female hysteria” was cured by a doctor getting off his patient. Starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Hugh Dancy (Martha Marcy May Marlene), reviews have been mixed. The central complaint is that it’s obviously going for edgy, dark, social-commentary comedy but never quite gets down and dirty enough to deliver. To me the central problem is that Maggie G sticks out like a sore thumb in a period piece. That is not an old-fashioned face.

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What to Expect When You’re Expecting

This is a movie based on a very popular book about what it’s like to be pregnant. The ensemble cast includes Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Anna Kendrick, Chris Rock, Dennis Quaid and Megan Mullaly. The Cult of Mommyhood will ensure this is a success. Me and my kid-hating, arctic tundra of a womb will be giving it a pass.

May 25

Chernobyl Diaries

It’s basically Paranormal Activity but at the site of a nuclear meltdown. So instead of ghosts, it’s nuclear mutants. Or something. Looks stupid. I’m over the “found footage” horror fad. If you’re craving horror but looking for quality, seek out Cabin in the Woods or Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (which is on Netflix Instant, I think).

The Intouchables

The Weinstein Company imports this French comedy/drama about an aristocrat who is paralyzed after a sporting accident and hires a criminal-type as his caretaker. It features French stars Francois Cluzet (Monster in Paris) and Omar Sy (Micmacs).

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Men in Black III

Ten years after Men in Black II, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are back as alien-wrangling Agents J and K. It’s a time travel plot so Josh Brolin is in to play the younger version of K and his impression of Jones is eerily accurate. This movie looks like a mess and sounds really dumb, but I don’t want to bet against Will Smith. So it’ll make a bunch of money, even if it does suck.

Moonrise Kingdom

Wes Anderson made three movies (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums) that launched him to indie-god status (they were good, better, best). Then he made The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, which isn’t as bad as people say but is still pretty meh. And then came The Darjeeling Limited which is yikes (I blame Adrien Brody, who was already on his douche-spiral when they made the film). After taking a couple years to regroup, amusing himself with stop-motion animation in the interim, Anderson came back with the stellar The Fantastic Mr. Fox. And now, five years after Darjeeling, he’s returned to live-action films with Moonrise Kingdom. It’s got a big ensemble cast featuring Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman and Edward Norton, and a twee plot that sounds very Wes Anderson (young lovers in a 1960’s New England island town run away and the town sets out to find them). It looks like Anderson is back on form and as a huge fan of four of his films, I’m really looking forward to this one.

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